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Fukushima: “Far From Any Stable Shutdown”

George Washington's picture





 

Radioactive xenon has been detected at the Fukushima nuclear plant, indicating that nuclear reactions are still occurring.

BusinessWeek notes that the Japanese government has confirmed the existence of radioactive xenon:

The detection of xenon, which is associated with nuclear fission, was confirmed today by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the country’s atomic regulator said.

NHK reports:

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it found in the facility’s No.2 reactor radioactive substances that could have resulted from continuous nuclear fission.

 

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said on Wednesday that it detected xenon-133 and xenon-135 in gas taken from the reactor’s containment vessel on the previous day. The substances were reportedly in concentrations of 6 to more than 10 parts per million becquerels per cubic centimeter.

 

Xenon-135 was also detected in gas samples collected on Wednesday.

 

Radioactive xenon is produced during nuclear fission.

 

The half-life of xenon-133 is 5 days, and that of xenon-135 is 9 hours.

 

***

 

The utility also says it wants to take a close look at the situation of the plant’s No.1 and 3 reactors.

Bloomberg writes:

Given the signs, it’s certain that fission is occurring,” Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at Tepco who regularly talks to the media, told reporters in Tokyo today. There’s been no large-scale or sustained criticality and no increase in radiation, he said.

 

***

 

It’s possible there are similar reactions occurring in the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, the other cores damaged at the station, Matsumoto said.

 

Melted fuel in the No. 2 reactor may have undergone a sustained process of nuclear fission or re-criticality,” Tetsuo Ito, the head of Kinki University’s Atomic Energy Research Institute, said by phone. “The nuclear fission should be containable by injecting boron into the reactor to absorb neutrons.”

Bellona points out:

According to Bellona physicist and executive director, Nils Bøhmer, and Dr Komei Hosokawa, head of the Department of Environmental and Social Research at Japan’s Kyoto Seika University … The presence of these gasses indicated fresh nuclear fission taking place in the hot debris of the melted fuel rods at the bottom of the container….

 

“This clear indication that a nuclear chain reaction is going on in one the reactors is a very bad sign. TEPCO had said that the situation would be stable within nine months after the accident,” said Bøhmer.

 

“Any on-going uncontrolled chain-reaction is not an indication of a stable rector, and we could face a much longer period of instability until the reactors are safe,” he said.

 

A TEPCO official has confirmed a so-called “partial re-criticality” incident in reactor No 2, said Hosokawa in the information he forwarded to Bellona. Hosokawa said the term “partial re-criticality was “a new vague word for [TEPCO’s] spin practice.

 

Other radioactive gasses detected at the reactor, said Hosokawa, included Xenon-131m and Krypton-85, which are likely remnants of the chain reactions that occurred immediately after the earthquake and tsunami.

However, Ex-SKF reports – based on a handout from Tepco – that there was a “100-Fold Increase in Krypton-85 from November 1” to November 2nd.

EneNews notes the significance of Krytpon-85:

According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, “Krypton-85 is the best indicator for clandestine plutonium separations” when conducting wide-area atmospheric monitoring.

 

 

Also, EX-SKF writes, “According to wiki, ‘About three atoms of krypton-85 are produced for every 1000 fissions (i.e. it has a fission yield of 0.3%)’.

Bellona also writes:

Japanese nuclear authorities … say the chain reactions will not affect the projected shut-own schedule. Currently the temperature at the hot zones of the reactors is been sustained at below 100 degrees Celsius by seawater constantly being pumped in.

 

Hosokawa, however, strongly disagreed, citing the apparent present condition of the nuclear fuel in reactor No 2, if not others.

 

“TEPCO so far claimed that the melted-down uranium had formed an oval shape with a cooled-down crust. Their roadmap for the “cold shutdown, if ever, is based on this condition,” said Hosokawa. “Now that they propose a quite different view regarding the condition of nuclear fuel, the roadmap vision [for shutdown] cannot be intact.”

Indeed, we’ve been reporting for months that nuclear reactions are probably still continuing at Fukushima (as have Fairewinds, Ene and Ex-SKF.)

The New York Times points out:

The unexpected bursts — something akin to flare-ups after a major fire … threaten to increase the amount of dangerous radioactive elements leaking from the complex and complicate cleanup efforts, raising startling questions about how much remains uncertain at the plant….

 

The plant’s owner admitted for the first time that fuel deep inside three stricken plants was probably continuing to experience bursts of fission.

 

***

 

It is impossible to determine exactly what state the fuel is in, given that even an intact reactor can offer only limited gauges in the form of temperature, pressure readings and neutron flow, but not visual observation. That lack of clarity is one of the most resonant lessons of the Fukushima disaster, where those trying to guide the response and assess the danger operated by what amounted to educated guesswork.

 

In reactors of the design used at Fukushima, that chain reaction is normally stopped when the operator gives a command to insert control rods, which rise up from the bottom of the core and separate the fuel assemblies. But when the cores of three reactors at Fukushima melted, a large part of the fuel presumably formed a jumbled mass in the bottom of the vessel, and without a strict gridlike geometry, the control rods cannot be inserted. Some of the fuel has escaped the vessel, experts believe, and is in spaces underneath, where there is no way to use control rods to interrupt the flow of neutrons.

 

***

 

The three reactors — together with spent fuel rods stored at a fourth damaged reactor — have been leaking radioactive material since the initial disaster, and new episodes of fission would only increase their dangers.

 

Re-criticality would produce more harmful radioactive material, and because the reactors are damaged, there would be a danger of a leak,” said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute, whose prescient warnings about nuclear safety have won him respect in Japan.

 

Mr. Koide holds that the nuclear fuel at the three reactors probably melted through containments and into the ground, raising the possibility of contaminated groundwater. If much of the fuel was indeed in the ground early in the crisis, the “feed and bleed” strategy initially taken by Tokyo Electric — where workers pumped cooling water into the reactors, producing hundreds of tons of radioactive runoff — would have prevented fuel still in the reactor from boiling itself dry and melting, but would not have done anything to reduce danger from fuel already in the soil — if it got that far.

 

***

 

Tokyo Electric does not deny the possibility that the fuel may have burrowed into the ground, but its officials say that “most” of the fuel likely remains within the reactor, albeit slumped at the bottom in a molten mass.

 

But even in their most dire assessments, some experts had not expected even bursts of re-criticality to occur, because it was unlikely that the fuel would melt in just the right way — and that another ingredient, water, would be present in just the right amounts — to allow for any nuclear reaction. If episodes of fission at Fukushima were confirmed, Mr. Koide said, “our entire understanding of nuclear safety would be turned on its head.”

 

Some nuclear experts have debated for months whether nuclear reactions might be continuing, either in the fuel inside the reactors, or in the spent fuel pools at the plant. They have pointed, for example, to the continued reports of short-lived iodine in the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 3.

 

A former nuclear engineer with three decades of experience at a major engineering firm … who has worked at all three nuclear power complexes operated by Tokyo Electric … said that tiny fuel pellets could have been carried to different parts of the plant, like the spaces under the reactor during attempts to vent them in the early days. That would explain several cases of lethally high radiation readings found outside the reactor cores.

 

“If the fuel is still inside the reactor core, that’s one thing,” he said. But if the fuel has been dispersed more widely, then we are far from any stable shutdown.

Hopefully, nuclear expert Paul Gunter's fear that we face a "China Syndrome" - where the fuel from the reactor cores at Fukushima have melted through the container vessels, into the ground, and are hitting groundwater and creating highly-radioactive steam - will turn out to be overblown (even though NHK and Tepco have allegedly confirmed that steam was escaping from underground back in June, something Fukushima workers have alleged for some time):

 


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Thu, 11/03/2011 - 11:43 | Link to Comment DarthVaderMentor
DarthVaderMentor's picture

Things must be pretty bad when in Donglicker's Marketticker forum the pro-nuclear lobbyists are finally admitting that this is "Bad News". After all, Donglicker banned every expert that had even hinted at "re-criticality" even the one that had ACTUALLY WORKED AT FUKUSHIMA, which was an exclusive for him which he has now lost.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:42 | Link to Comment g speed
g speed's picture

Japan-- over time(within the decade) the plutonium stored in no4 will go critical and melt down to the rock--the heat from fissionable urainuim that is critical now will cause pressures and temperatures in the rock cracks that will allow a high speed chain reaction (aka nuke) to take place. It's a chance for the black swan of Asia. 

 On a shorter time line the heavy winters coming to the US Midwest will run off and bust the dams in the lower Mississipppi basin-- a new river delta in south La --starts happening this year with spring run off.

Just a couple of guesses but your heard it here first.

All experts say these events will never occur.

Murphy says if it can it will

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:40 | Link to Comment dexter_morgan
dexter_morgan's picture

This sounds bad - what are the worst case and most-likely case scenarios? I guess it's hard to say since we aren't getting the full story, but any educated guesses?

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:32 | Link to Comment Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

More news--TEPCO now saying 'it's just fission product reactions, not recriticality.'  Meanwhile....

Radioactive materials detected in Tokyo Bay

Waste water discharged into Tokyo Bay from a cement plant has been found to contain radioactive cesium at much higher levels than the government-set limit for disposal.

The plant in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, uses ash from incinerators in the prefecture to produce cement.

The Chiba government says the plant operator checked waste water discharged from the plant into Tokyo Bay once in September and once in October.

It found radioactive cesium at levels of 1,103 becquerels per kilogram, and 1,054 becquerels per kilogram respectively.

The levels are 14 to 15 times higher than the limit set by the country's Nuclear Safety Commission.

The water had been used to clean filters which remove toxic materials from ashes.

The operator stopped discharging the waste water on Wednesday. The prefectural government has launched a survey of the seawater of Tokyo Bay near the plant.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011 22:08 +0900 (JST)

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:15 | Link to Comment dexter_morgan
dexter_morgan's picture

I apologize for this being off topic sort of, but got the following email from a friend and was curious if any of the gun people that frequent the site can confirm this:

"Who is buying companies manufacturing guns ???????? Very important to know, but what can we do ???? For the last several years a company called The Freedom Group has been buying up gun and ammunition manufacturers.Some of the companies are Bushmaster,Marlin,Remington, DPMS, Dakota Arms and H&R.
Some people worry that this Freedom Group is going to control most of the firearms companies in the United States . If you control the manufacturers you can Decide to stop selling to civilians.What a perfect way to control guns. Now if you do some digging you will see that The Freedom Group is owned
by a company called Cerberus Capital Management. Guess who controls Cerberus??? GEORGE SOROS !!!!!!!!! One of the most evil men on this planet who wants to restrict or ban all civilian guns.
Please pass this on to all your freedom loving friends. This needs to come out.Why have we not heard about this in the "mainstream" media? I would think this would be BIG news. If you don't know who George Soros is you need to do some research. He backed Obama with millions of dollars and Obama is a puppet on a string controlled by Soros. Send this to every gun owner in America"

Fact or fiction?


Fri, 11/11/2011 - 20:24 | Link to Comment SIOP
SIOP's picture

" The Freedom Group has been buying up gun and ammunition"

False. http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/freedom.asp      (google is your friend)

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:53 | Link to Comment SoNH80
SoNH80's picture

Wasn't there a hip disco in 1970's NYC called Xenon?  Let's luude out and boogie on the shores of the Pacific... I ate some Japanese canned snow crab meat the other day, the price has dropped $3/can.  Very delicious, helping out the hard-pressed fishermen of Nippon, and not glowing yet.  Might as well whistle past the graveyard... nothing I hear about Fukushima news sounds good, nothing at all.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:05 | Link to Comment Mr. Blind Justice
Mr. Blind Justice's picture

There is a place to hide.  Follow the instructions:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaX5lZGaNtA

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:05 | Link to Comment High Plains Drifter
High Plains Drifter's picture

i don't understand this talk about shutdown by tepco. the cores are out of control. they are out of the structure. they are out of the buildings. they are in the ground. what the hell are they talking about?  the situation is out of control and there is very little that any human can do about it. so tepco, why not see if you can figure out what to do about that , instead of issuing mindless press releases that are all lies......

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 14:39 | Link to Comment HedgeCock
HedgeCock's picture

The only thing in cold shutdown is brain of whoever is responsible for the clean up.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:02 | Link to Comment Mr. Blind Justice
Mr. Blind Justice's picture

There is something you can do.  Follow these instructions:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaX5lZGaNtA

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 08:40 | Link to Comment Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Okay they've tried pouring boron on the plant.  Now it's time for a million Japanese each with a shoveful of cement.  Will it solve the problem?  Maybe, maybe not, but it has to work better than benign neglect.  Get your shovels.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:14 | Link to Comment maddogs
maddogs's picture

The Reactor material as capable of melting through the concrete and steel reinforced, it will melt till hit hits sufficient water to dilute the materials. Dilution will happen by spreading the material. Till the material is spread apart, the reaction rate will continue, this is not to say that in the intervening time, the material will not congregate in some small way. There are no true models on a "China syndrome" in how the material will disperse, or differing parts of the materials "drilling into the eart might come into contact with other "pools" of materials. There is no way of telling if this might be the situation.

The only historical evidence that shows the process to come to a rapid downgrading in reaction, is the scenario where the material is spread about,,,, I'm in the camp where this will happen, sooner or late. The only question is when, the "spread will happen, and how it will manifest it's self.

Do not eat the Tuna.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:26 | Link to Comment Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

The problem with dilution is that even as seperate, minute 'hot' particles the stuff is still deadly and the danger will last for years and years even diluted.  Dilution spreads the danger all over the earth.  So let the first half million shovels seperate it enough to end the reaction, then the second half million shovels cover it with concrete.  Get the shovels going.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 08:37 | Link to Comment apberusdisvet
apberusdisvet's picture

Our  grandchildren will never know that there ever was a Japan by the time this is over.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:07 | Link to Comment High Plains Drifter
High Plains Drifter's picture

i basically said that in march. i speculated this was the end of japan. and it may well be. this radiation and fallout is spreading and the japanese themselves are not helping matters that much either.   speaking of radiation, i wonder just how much is on the planes that fly out of tokyo each day and how much is on the cars that japan exports...........etc etc etc........

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 07:51 | Link to Comment krispkritter
Thu, 11/03/2011 - 07:24 | Link to Comment daily bread
daily bread's picture

The weasel words "partial re-criticality" are nice!  Like partial pregnancy.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 06:47 | Link to Comment westboundnup
westboundnup's picture

The news about Fukushima mimics the disaster itself.  Long periods of silences punctuated by sharp reminders of how toxic and dangerous the situation is, and will be into the future.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 06:33 | Link to Comment JOYFUL
JOYFUL's picture

 

Good to see George return to his strong suite.  

Pretty much a lock that isreal 'did' Fukushima with a stuntex, after using Darth Cheney as point man in the set up.  

http://www.rense.com/general94/secbb.htm

Bad enough that they knock down tall buildings with a sweep of the hand. Now they've upset the plans of backyard gardeners for several thousand years.  Hopefully it's the gardening classes which will finally say enough is enough to the small hyper-aggressive bully in the middle east sandbox-they're really passionate about their hobby!


 

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 06:31 | Link to Comment onthesquare
Thu, 11/03/2011 - 06:14 | Link to Comment proLiberty
proLiberty's picture

For all the billions we have wasted on wind power, we could have designed and tested a new generation of 'walk-away-safe' reactors.  Government has been just as bull-headed in its wind power insantity as it has been in the regulatory favoritism towards a legacy of reactor designs that are subject to running away and require ongoing power to keep sufficiently cool, even when shut down. 

A disaster scenario that also disables the reactor's backup power was the industry's 'black swan'.  Sure enough, as impossible as that scenerio was, it happened not to just one reactor, but where the reactors were clustered.

Happily there are a growing number of people minds that are open enough to reconsider reactor designs based on thorium.  Further, the Rossi eCat was successfuly tested, so there is another open-ended energy technology that appears to be safe. 

 

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 14:43 | Link to Comment HedgeCock
HedgeCock's picture

The thorium thing is neva' going to happen.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 08:53 | Link to Comment Ruffcut
Ruffcut's picture

Ain't nothing wrong with wind power. Just put a ton of the mills in DC and let the useless blowhards make enuff energy for generations to come.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:36 | Link to Comment IAmNotMark
IAmNotMark's picture

Sorry.  That won't work.  If the useless blowhards figure out that they're doing something useful, they'll stop.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 07:16 | Link to Comment jeff montanye
jeff montanye's picture

let us see.  if the wind mill malfunctions what happens?  migratory birds injured?  electricity cut off?  maybe a plant operator killed?  if the nuclear reactor malfunctions what happens?  have to have a phd to enter the argument and, as events here indicate, the phds apparently aren't sure.  

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 05:23 | Link to Comment Cynical Sidney
Cynical Sidney's picture

krugman :"BULLISH!"

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 03:29 | Link to Comment Element
Element's picture

Something tells me we may eventually end up with a new SI unit called the Fuku.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 02:24 | Link to Comment buyingsterling
buyingsterling's picture

Too bad the international community had to abandon all of their efforts to help the Japanese contain this. What efforts? Er, didn't Obama say something about it the day after it happened? Thank goodness it's not a global problem affecting everyone, or our leaders might be awfully worked up about it.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 02:16 | Link to Comment zhandax
zhandax's picture

"Potential black swan"?  This bitch is the gift that keeps on giving.  I will need another bottle of kelp capsules by next month and I am on the east-ish end of NA.  But we can agree on the thanks to GW for the update.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 01:48 | Link to Comment Nobody For President
Nobody For President's picture

Well, Bloomberg and Business Week have noted it - wonder when (if) it will hit page 12 of the MSM? Is this why the Nikkei is down 2%+ at the moment? 

THANKS (again)  GW for staying on this puppy - a potential Black Swan lurks...

Wed, 11/02/2011 - 23:54 | Link to Comment Urban Roman
Urban Roman's picture

"China Syndrome" or "Rio / Caracas Syndrome" if you will -- is the best case scenario. The contents of the cores burying themselves in earth's crust.

What we apparently have, is a worst case scenario. The not-quite-buried corium continues to sputter and spew, and all Tepco does is to rinse it off with seawater, carrying the massive contamination to the rest of the planet. Too bad no country has an environmental policy, or someone would have to take over and make them stop scattering the nuke waste.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 04:56 | Link to Comment Element
Element's picture

Worst case is it stays exactly where it is, and gets hotter, and the buildings get hotter above it, and the foundation's demise causes the structural walls to crumble on top of it, and the spent fuel pools then finally join in the mayhem.

I made a couple of lengthy posts back in April and May pointing that magmas and lavas don't sink, especially into solid country rocks that heat extremely slowly (because they have very low/slow thermal conductivity ... contiguous rock simply does not heat up quickly enough ... it takes thousands to millions of years to heat and melt a cubic km of solid rock via thermal conduction ... mostly they just go through a solid-state metamorhism and deform with a recrystalization of their bulk chemistry into new mineral types and rock micro-fabric).

Instead, a 'melt' ALWAYS moves NET upwards (especially when excess liquid or gaseous water and salts are involved) and/or laterally in structural weaknesses (rock joints, cracks, faults) towards the point of lowest pressure, and that's toward the interface with the atmosphere and hydrosphere (into the soil, not into rock).

To go downward into rock the pressure and temp (and also containment) must INCREASE - and very dramatically.

And it certainly won't do that, as steam eruptions will release pressure, and some heat, so it will pool at or just below the surface, with next to zero extra pressure or confinement. That means almost everything goes into the air and water, over time.

That's the problem with this whole naive 'China Syndrome' mythology, very few people will actually listen to a geologist explain what real, and persistently hot magma, and brine, and rock, and soil will do when they interact long-term ... then add in the self-heating and self-mixing aspects ... and the rainfall.

That's the key to what will happen. So if you want to get a good overview of what is most likely to happen here, the best people to speak to are geochemists, with a strong background in igneous petrology, and a lot of practical fieldwork experience.

The rest are guessing ... and getting it mostly very wrong ... then saying "everything we thought we knew is being changed" (which is actually a trendy tangential way of admitting you're a complete fucking idiot and massively incompetant, to even comment on such matters ... in the first place).

Well, no it isn't, as any serious geologist (and no, I do not mean some dimwit MSM-geo-monkey boy with a degree in geo-environmentalism or some fucking twaddle ... I mean a no-bullshiting hands-on reseacher of melted rock) could have told you what is likely to occur now ... but it's fantastically improper to ask a geologist almost anything these days. certainly the MSM treats geo's with complete and utter contempt (but will hang on avidly to whatever trite garbage some mere physics theorist trots out ...)

Hopefully, nuclear expert Paul Gunter's fear that we face a "China Syndrome" - where the fuel from the reactor cores at Fukushima have melted through the container vessels, into the ground, and are hitting groundwater and creating highly-radioactive steam - will turn out to be overblown (even though NHK and Tepco have allegedly confirmed that steam was escaping from underground back in June, something Fukushima workers have alleged for some time):

 

Possibly not, it's entirely possible that this steam was coming from cracks in the foundation, and then venting as steam into the soil and rock, heating it over time, so that it eventually comes to the surface as a vapour ... but the fuel itself is still in the foundation.

Fissioning fuel still in the foundation is in fact potentially far worse, as when the buildings eventually get so hot from the insulating effects of the concrete (and dilution of fuel is thus reduced also), that they keeping the excess heat in, and increasingly getting hotter, the building just crumbles, and the spent fuel pools then trigger the real disaster.

Yeah ... the  R E A L  disaster ... what has occurred so far is just the PRE-disaster preparation ... it's still coming.

 

I'm really sorry to say that ... it actually makes me feel sick to even think about it ... so I try not to.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:27 | Link to Comment Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Makes you wonder what TEPCO is measuring with their instrumentation.  They've been reporting 70-80 celsius for a while now.  The operating theory is to just keep watering the cores.  If they stop of course they heat right back up...so I am wondering, what is the structure inside there and where is there fuel that isn't getting watered?

Hot spots are one thing, a big gooey mess that can do whatever it wants is something else.

And again, with feeling: there are probably about 100 Chernobyls worth of just cesium in the damaged buildings.  Chernobyl burned real nice, but it was only three years old.  All of this huge amount of fuel rods at Fukushima is waaaaaaay more irradiated and full of fission product than Chernobyl was.

Fri, 11/04/2011 - 06:55 | Link to Comment Element
Element's picture

I think given all we know and have discovered so far, and that they have admitted, Tepco is (still) systematically lying its arse off, as well as the Govt.

A big gooey steamy thick acidic brine-metal solute, is what's still coming.

And each time it rains heavily ... it will ooze out ... like puss from a weeping boil

 

 

 

 

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 10:11 | Link to Comment spanish inquisition
spanish inquisition's picture

Thanks for the info. Based on your info, it seems to me that they know the buildings are coming down and the covers are more of a David Copperfield illusion so people don't see the slow collapse.

I think I understand your analysis regarding the China syndrome and have a question. Is there any issue with the slope of the underlying bedrock creating a flow to the ocean?

Fri, 11/04/2011 - 07:30 | Link to Comment Element
Element's picture

I don't think the mobility of a melt is the principle issue, for if it flows it dilutes.

i.e.

If it flows it will cool somewhat as it heats up new areas it moves into.

Plus, as it moves, and/or melts it also dilutes, so it this cools because it can self-interact less efficiently, so will cool and will stay cool.

But that cooling solves NOTHING.

The greater danger is if it does NOT flow and dilute, but instead stays right where it is, in a shockingly reactive and poisonous pool.

Let me be completely clear;

If this pool of melt corium were right NOW at room temperature and solid, this would still be an epic catastrophe.

This is because it will still mobilise within water and you can't stop it if the reactors are flooded with brine, and foundations are cracked and permeable to water and steam.  If it created lots of melted glass in the foundation (an yes, I'm confident it did) that 'glass' (slag really) will hydrate and devitrify (i.e. grow crystals from the bulk chemistry of that slag .. . and it can happen very quickly ... think days to hours), and the residues of that slag's mineral alteration will turn into a hydrated liquefied goo and will mobilise very readily, as a radioactive acid, in any water that is present.

Especially in extremely salty water (from lots of evaporation leaving the salt behind, as steam was driven off).

Decay rates do not decrease with falling temperature. It remains just a deadly as before.

So cooling it down ultimately solves NOTHING, all the cooling does is slow the RATE of solute and gas propagation.

Slows it, but does NOT stop it. It can't be stopped, there is no magic cold-shutdown condition.

This thing does NOT have an OFF setting.

But TPTB in Japan are pretending this will somehow solve or remedy something, and stabilise the situation longer-term, in some utter fantasy condition of "cold shutdown", in which workers and machines can clean it up.

Monty Python couldn't generate no more absurdist term, with regard to Daiichi.

This is not a man-made reactor any more, it's a little pool of Hell, and it's going to get much more intense - even if it cools down in a year or five.

In fact, the bulk hydration of the melt corium will occur as it cools down. So as you cool it down (if you actually could ... which you probably can't ... it will do that itself) you thus also allow and in fact cause it to become more mobile in water.

The real issue is the mobility of individual atoms, and compounds in solutes and as gases.

That's a staggeringly deadly problem - right NOW - and what we have seen so far is several orders of magnitude LESS than what's to come.

And it's cumulative dosage, plus time that matters, not some temporal map of radiation flux, on date 'x'.

I would suggest people forget about that glib China Syndrome melt-meets-water-table myth, and just look at the geochemical processes that will certainly unfold to mobilise this muck.

Many furnaces (Labs and industrial scale) create slag glass, that turns into a mineralised wet 'paste', within days or hours, simply by taking in the water within humid air.

But put it in a pool of hot salty water, and much of it simply dissolves - completely - into the water that becomes a dense 'solute'.

And the more salty and also hot the water is, the generally more concentrated a resulting mobile solute can become (i.e. it can absorb/dissolve more radioactive atoms into itself, before crystals are forced precipitate out) because the water's metal solubility is thus increased.

However any fall in temp or pressure or saltiness will instantly change the solubility of the liquid, and thus cause an instant precipitation of extremely radioactive mineralisation, as it can suddenly  no longer be held in the solution.

Get it?

You then get trillions upon uncountable trillions of micro-crystals (only a few tens to a few thousands of atoms per crystal), being spread all over wherever this liquid goes ... and yes, this is what the green goo they're spraying is for. They need to stop these getting airborne.

Crystals which are so small they can be mobilized and be blown around by a stiff sea-breeze, and then come down in rain.

So, you now have a mobile REGIONAL problem because these micro-crystals will definitely move as water and dust do, and will cummulatively poison everything it reaches.

The 'slope' of bedrock units is almost entirely irrelevant because it won't be a melt that moves, and we already know the bedrock is permeable, because we already know the ground water is highly contaminated. So we know water is moving through the pore-spaces within the rock and soil.

What is still to come from those FLOODED reactor basements will be a super-poisonous liquid, that wildly exceeds the capacity for humans or machines to capture store and treat it, although great efforts will be expended to fruitlessly appear to be able to do that - before it is effectively abandoned. The extremely deadly precipitated mineralisations will see to that.

Now collapse a building, or even 4 of them, and their spent fuel pool's contents on top ... 

 

The extraordinary contaimination of soil and child's shoes, that Gunderson mentions below, is just the beginning of this.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:34 | Link to Comment jse111
jse111's picture

TY for a brilliant, on point presentation. As repeated ad nauseum and at the ultimate best, from Tokyo northward will become uninhabitable within 5 and likely fewer years. Additionally, the human genome damage in place and accumulating is and will be geometrically incalculable.

Lastly and unfortunately, no current technological remedy is available to end "Godzilla's March To The Sea" and beyond. Limiting the colossal damage exclusively to Japan is virtually the only viable option.

Said with the utmost respect, "Why must it be this way!"

 

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 04:59 | Link to Comment Urban Roman
Urban Roman's picture

Tepco's assertion "We sprinkled a little boric acid on it, so it's all better now" sounds so lame. If they aren't getting heavy and heat resistant metal borides into the corium itself they are accomplishing nothing.

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 05:01 | Link to Comment Element
Element's picture

yep, it's like water off a duck's back ... it doesn't go into the duck.

Wed, 11/02/2011 - 22:57 | Link to Comment Forgiven
Forgiven's picture

GW,

You should also read this report by John Daly at Oilprice.com

 

http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/New-International-R...

 

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 09:54 | Link to Comment Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Until a million shovels are dipping into the morass of Fukushima, there is no endgame.

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